Escondido has been home to fascinating people, upstanding as well as scoundrels and characters. To find a specific person, click on the initial of the person's last name. We look forward to expanding and improving the functionality of this list over time; please check back to see more.
Cravath, Clifford Carlton "Gavvy" - Cravath, later also nicknamed "Cactus"when he became a "prickly" judge, was an American right fielder and right-handed batter in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Timken, Henry (EHC newsletter article)
Henry Timken, a name known today around the world for inventing the tapered roller bearing, came to Southern California as one of the many “Eastern Capitalists” in the great boom years of the late 1880s. These men were attracted by the business opportunities, climate and the excitement the of the West.
Already famous and very wealthy from his patented carriage cross-spring, Henry Timken retired from active business in 1887. He moved to San Diego leaving his St. Louis business under the management of his son-in-law, A. S. Bridges.
In San Diego, Henry Timken did not remain idle in his retirement. After building an impressive home on the corner of 1st and Laurel Streets (which still stands today) he began looking around for real estate to purchase. In 1888 alone he bought over $500,000 in land and buildings in San Diego. That same year he also made his way to Escondido for the first time. The local newspaper reported that he thought Escondido was just the place for a home. However, six years went by before he acquired property here.
In 1893, pursuing an interest in farming, Timken purchased 200 acres of unimproved land of the Thomas Show Ranch from A. R. Thomas a founding member of the Escondido Land and Town Company. Little is known about the details of the transaction but public records show that A. R. Thomas purchased the Timken mansion in San Diego around that same time for only $1. One can assume that the 200 acres in Escondido sold to Henry Timken was part of the real estate deal. The Timken property was located on what is today East Valley Parkway. Remnants of some of the orchards that were planted under his supervision may still exist. Mr. Timken never built a home for himself on the property but he did build a packing shed which still stands.
Henry Timken did not live in Escondido on a full time basis. He traveled back and forth to Escondido from Louis and eventually Ohio via San Diego.
Timken left the daily care of his Escondido ranch to local employees, one of whom was Albert Beven, father of the late local historian Frances Beven Ryan. Whenever Timken came to town he stayed at the Escondido Hotel. His name appears many times in the early hotel registers.
It is from stories handed down through the Beven family that we glean some specific information about the Timken Ranch. The first fruit trees that were planted were peaches, apricots and plums. Later Timken dedicated most of his land to growing citrus. On one occasion Albert Beven and a co-worker were sent to Florida to purchase and bring back bare-root orange trees. The roots were dipped in clay before leaving Florida and Albert rode the train back to Escondido in the boxcar along with the trees keeping the clay on the roots moist so that they would survive the trip. A portion of the citrus crop on the Timken Ranch was planted in Blood Oranges. Timken had a contract with a Massachusetts company who purchased the entire crop of Blood Oranges every year.
It is also through the Beven family that we learn that Henry Timken utilized the heavy load bearing wagons on the ranch to perfect his most important invention, the tapered roller bearing. The patent for the Timken Roller Bearing Axle was issued in June, 1898. It is logical to assume that between 1893 and 1898 the ranch made a very useful testing site for his early prototypes.
Timken retained ownership of his Escondido ranch at least through August, 1899 when he subscribed for water stock from the Escondido Irrigation District. That year Timken and his two sons opened the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Co. in St. Louis. In 1901 the company moved to Canton, Ohio to be closer to the automobile industry.
Also in 1901, Henry Timken’s daughter, Amelia Bridges and her husband Appleton moved to Escondido. They purchased the (Beach/Bergman) house at 700 S. Juniper and lived there until 1904. Appleton Bridges had worked for his father-in-law in the carriage business in St. Louis and was left in charge when Henry Timken moved to California in 1887. It’s very probable that Appleton Bridges moved to California to once again look after Timken’s interests while Timken and his sons were focusing their attentions on their new company in Ohio.
Timken sold his ranch sometime after the turn of the century. By 1906 the Timken Ranch had become the nucleus of the 500 acre Eureka Ranch, the largest ranch in Escondido, which was owned by four men, A. W. Wohlford, G.R. Crane, F.E. Boudinot and Albert Beven.
Henry Timken died in 1909 leaving a legacy that has impacted the world. Today Timken tapered roller bearings can be found in everything from airplanes and space crafts to printing presses and cars. On a smaller scale Henry Timken left his mark on the agricultural history of Escondido as one of the early pioneers of the citrus industry which flourished here for over forty years.
Felicita of San Pasqual
To those who saw Felicita at the turn of the last century, the Indian was just an ancient, barefoot woman in an old bandana and ragged clothes who hung around Escondido. She used to ride into town with her husband, Morales, behind a donkey and cart to pick up a few provisions before returning to their home, a converted chicken house, in the San Pasqual Valley.
At the time, Felicita was believed to be nearing 100 years of age, and to some her wrinkled face offered few hints of nobility. But Elizabeth Judson Roberts, who took the time to talk to her through a translator, learned she had been an Indian princess, or so her story went.
Roberts first recorded the story of Felicita in her book Indian Stories of the Southwest, published in 1917. Many years later she recounted the story once again in a series of articles for the Daily Times-Advocate. According to Mrs. Roberts, Felicita was born in a tule hut on the shore of a great laguna that once existed near Bernardo. Felicita was the daughter of Pontho, chief of the San Pasqual Indians. She never saw a white man until she was a girl of perhaps twelve when a company of Mexican soldiers came to the village with a padre from the San Diego Mission. The padre ordered that all the children of the valley be brought to him at a certain time and place for baptism. It was at this time that her Indian name was changed to Felicita.
When Felicita had grown to a mature woman she and her people were eye witnesses to the Battle of San Pasqual. Mrs. Roberts recorded the incident as follows in an April 1950 article for the Daily Times- Advocate: “The Indians watched from the hills that December day in 1846 as the American and Mexican soldiers fought the Battle of San Pasqual. Felicita saw a fight between two horsemen in the brush near the river below. One was a Mexican, carrying a long lance; the other an American who seemed to have only a sword for defense. As the Mexican thrust with his long-handled spear at the American, the latter would turn the steel aside with his sword. This happened time after time, until finally, when the Mexican made an extra vicious thrust, the American’s sword broke off at the handle, allowing the other’s spear to pierce his side. The American fell from his horse to the ground. The Mexican watched his foe for a moment, then rode away.
“A little later, when the fighting ceased, Felicita hurried down the hillside to where she had watched the men fighting. As she searched for the fallen American, she heard a groan. Hurrying toward the sound, she found the soldier lying on the ground, his eyes closed and blood oozing from his side. Frightened, she stood looking at him. Suddenly his eyes opened and he spoke to her, but she could not understand his words. Then he pointed to his mouth, and she knew what he wanted. Seizing his cap, which lay close by, she ran to a water hole near the river, filled it with water, and brought it to him. He drank eagerly, then again closed his eyes. Remembering the Indian remedy for wounds, Felicita hunted near the river and soon found some large green leaves. Carefully opening the soldier’s uniform, she laid these leaves over the bleeding wound, then bound them tightly to his body with strips torn from his blanket. After that, she hurried up the hill, found her father, and told him of the wounded soldier she had found. Chief Pontho first sent a swift messenger to the American camp to show them where to find their wounded comrade. Then, he ordered two men to go with Felicita to the man. The two made a litter of willow poles,
while they waited for help from the American camp.
“In a short time, soldiers arrived from the camp and ‘Dick’, as she heard them call him, was placed on the willow litter and carried away. As he left, he raised one hand weakly in salute and smiled at the Indian girl who had rescued him. As Mrs. Roberts continues the story, eventually Felicita and Dick were reunited, love blossomed and he persuaded her to move to a small Indian village near the San Diego Mission as his wife. After a few months of happiness Dick became very ill (complications from his wound) and in a short time died, leaving Felicita disconsolate.
Felicita moved back to San Pasqual to her own people and late in life she met Morales who became her husband. They had no children.
Around 1906 Felicita and Morales were found sick and destitute in an old hut in one of the canyons leading into San Pasqual Valley. Mrs. Roberts befriended the old couple and, along with the other people of the valley, provided a small new cabin with all of the necessary furnishings. Felicita and Morales continued to receive care and friendship from the people of San Pasqual Valley for the rest of their lives.
Felicita died in October of 1911 and was buried in the old Indian Cemetery in San Pasqual.
As to whether all the facts of Felicita’s life as represented in the stories written by Mrs. Roberts are entirely true, it is doubtful. Mrs. Roberts admitted to fictionalizing part of the Felicita story that was printed in her book, Indian Stories of the Southwest. Those who knew Felicita, however, believed her to be the Indian princess she said she was.
In 1926 the story of Felicita was immortalized in an outdoor folk play written by a local optometrist, Ben Sherman, who wanted to believe the story. The Felicita Pageant was performed to sell-out crowds every fall from 1926-1931. Attempts to revive the play in the early 1970’s met with only nominal success. Felicita’s name continues to live on today in our community as the name of a county park, an elementary school, a prominent street and a shopping center.